"You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give." Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

As a Professional Organizer, I’ve witnessed houses that are literally under siege from unwanted material belongings that were either formally given as gifts, or simply passed along informally from friends or relatives.

As I explain to my clients, our physical ‘stuff’ is a direct reflection of our ‘emotional/spiritual’ stuff. Stuff = energy. I worked with Janet, a 38 year old woman, whose career, relationships, and sense of self weren’t at all where she wanted them to be and she couldn’t figure out why. Her home was spilling over with unsolicited, useless items that her mother had given her. When I asked Janet why she took this stuff into her space and kept it there against her own desires, her answer was because she didn’t want to ‘get into it’ with her mother.

Creating appropriate boundaries and being able to express your needs is part of the growing up/maturing process. After talking at length about all the ramifications that ensued from her passive responsive to her mother’s intrusive presence in her life, Janet had an epiphany regarding how the physical act of taking on her mother’s ‘stuff’ mirrored their entire relationship and indeed kept her stuck in her life. How could she be a successful business woman and grown partner to a man when she was hiding behind being momma’s good little girl?

Once that light of awareness turns on, it’s hard to turn it back off, and Janet knew that it was time for her step up and be honest and direct with her mother from the position of being an adult, not a child. Janet’s greatest fear is that her mother would make her feel guilty for not taking the things she gave her. Once Janet understood that she had a right to decide what she wanted to take into her house, she knew that she didn’t have to feel guilty no matter how her mother might try to manipulate her.

Together we practiced how she would respond to her mother the next time she was offered things she didn’t want. Janet would graciously thank her mother for thinking of her. She then would go on to explain how she was working on decluttering and simplifying her life, and that although she appreciated the thought, she was going to decline the offered items. Finally she would give her mother options: she could help her donate the goods to charity or she could rent a storage space for her mother if these were things her mom was interested in holding onto herself.

Might the mother blow up and try to hurl guilt Janet’s way? Absolutely! In fact I would bet that she would do so until she understood that Janet was not going to buy in anymore. This is a huge life lesson as nearly every single interaction that we have with others models this; people bring to each exchange the fullness of who they are at that moment. They will run their patterns by you, just as you run your patterns by them – consciously or not. Whether it sticks or doesn’t stick is up to you and how clear you’ve gotten within yourself. This is truly what I love about the process of dealing with ‘stuff’; it’s such a great bridge to working on yourself in deeper ways.

There is nothing wrong with getting rid of any gift that you don’t love, need, or use. Once a gift is given, it’s yours to do with as you like. If you run into patterns of receiving unwanted or inappropriate things from people in your life, it’s time to step up and have whatever that conversation is that’s necessary. With a little introspection, you’ll know exactly what it is. It may be a scary thing to do at first, but the more proactive you become in your life, the better it will feel and the more you will be able to embrace your full power.

On the giving end, ask yourself if you’re giving from love, which means being non-attached. The only way to be assured that someone will love a gift you’ve given is if you ask them directly what they want and then get them precisely that. If you find yourself buying things for others in excess, look within and see if you can discern your true motive. Are you trying to buy affection from these individuals? Gifts that involve taking someone out to dinner or on an outing are nice because then you get to spend time with that person as part of the gift; the time spent together in this way can strengthen important relationships, which is what really matters anyway!

My final recommendation is that you give according to what is appropriate for your budget. No one is going to pay your bills for you or contribute to your retirement fund, so I heartily agree with the sentiment: ‘charity begins at home’. Once your own house is in order, it can be a wonderful thing to buy gifts for others, and now, hopefully, you’ll have all of your gift supplies organized so wrapping them will be a breeze!

Author's Bio: 

With 20 years of experience in the field of human behavior as a Certified Jungian Hypnotherapist and practitioner of Cognitve-Behavioral Therapy, Sasha Lauren helps people turn their dreams into reality by understanding the direct connection between their mindset and the outer world.

She has written a Special Free Report entitled "The Top Ten Organizational Tips You Can't Live Without" which is available at http://www.RemarkableTransformations.com

You can reach Ms. Lauren directly at (310) 927-0297 to schedule a coaching session by phone from anywhere in the country, a hands-on organizing/coaching session in Southern California, or to book her as a Keynote Speaker on Productivity.